Dead set on an October date? What if waiting until January could leave thousands in your pocket? "Nearly every location has a high and low season," says Mark Maynard-Parisi, managing director of operations at Union Square Events in New York City. Fall and spring tend to be more expensive (September and June are peak wedding months), whereas winter and late summer are often much less. Of course, in certain destinations, like Mexico, the opposite is true.
Consider a Weekday
We know what you're thinking (never!), but we're not talking Tuesday here. More couples are opting for Thursday or Friday evening celebrations (which can be just as fun as a Saturday), and for good reason. "You can get about 20 percent off the site fee," says Lisa Johnson, marketing coordinator of RockResorts Mountain Collection in Vail, Colorado. And don't be afraid to bargain. "If they don't offer a discount, ask for one," she says. The only rule: Don't make your infatuation with the place obvious. Stay cool and tell them they're your second choice, but the price might sway you. Ultimately, venues just want to fill their calendars.
Stay in One Place
"Look for a spot that can accommodate both your ceremony and reception," says Bernadette Coveney Smith, owner of 14 Stories, an event company in New York City. "By doing so, you'll save on decorations and guest transportation costs, not to mention a second venue-rental fee."
Go for the All-In
Booking a place that already owns the equipment you'll need -- from flatware to tables -- can knock off up to $35 per guest from your bill, says Rebecca Feeney of Custom Event Group in Napa, California. One idea: your favorite restaurant (even better if they have a private room you can take over). "Not only does it completely eliminate the need for rentals, but once you meet the food and beverage minimum, there typically isn't a room fee," says Coveney Smith.
Look Past the Loft
Though they make a stunning first impression -- those windows! that skyline! -- they're essentially blank canvases that require lots of rentals, decor, and styling to turn wedding-worthy. Sites like libraries, art museums, and galleries come predecorated and can be just as striking.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
When it comes to linens, your first instinct may be to splurge on the tablecloths (they take up the most space, after all), but don't. "Your guests will have much more contact with the napkins. As long as they feel luxurious, that's what matters," says Heather Barrie of Gathering Floral and Event Design in Charleston, South Carolina.
Rather than going with a pricey string quartet for your ceremony, call a music school and have them recommend an experienced student group.
Break up the Band
If you're set on a reception group that's out of your price range, ask them if they'll downsize. "Large bands with lots of members often offer a condensed version at a smaller price tag," says Barrie.
Say "I Do" to a Backyard
If you or a close friend or family member has an amazing lawn or garden, think about hosting your event there. You'll need rentals, bathrooms, and a backup plan, but Mother Nature can handle the decorating.